Advocacy group Australian Marriage Equality will target Labor candidate David Feeney, running as a replacement for retiring former-Minister Martin Ferguson, with a leafleting campaign in the electorate of Batman in Melbourne’s inner-north in the lead-up to the federal election.
Feeney has been a divisive figure in the marriage equality debate, publicly stating his support for equality in 2011 and even urging party leaders to grant Labor members a conscience vote.
However, the former Senator abstained from last September’s marriage equality vote in federal parliament and in June this year voted against the Greens’ Senate bill to recognise same-sex marriages performed overseas. Following the June vote he took to Twitter to explain his actions:
“I believe in #MarriageEquality here in Australia, not making people fly overseas for it,” he wrote.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national convener Rodney Croome told the Star Observer Batman would be targeted along with a number of other electorates, including Brisbane, Perth and Wills, another inner-Melbourne electorate held by a Labor member, marriage equality opponent Kelvin Thomson.
“We’ll produce leaflets that will be distributed in a number of different electorates, some held by Liberal members, some held by Labor members, but what those electorates have in common is that they are inner-city electorates with high support for marriage equality, and where the sitting member doesn’t support the reform and should,” Croome said.
“In Batman obviously the sitting member has retired, and the Labor contender David Feeney, while he has said he supports marriage equality, didn’t vote for the relevant legislation in September last year, and voted against recognising overseas same-sex marriages in the Senate this year.”
In response, David Feeney made another public commitment to the Star Observer to support future bills but was silent on his failure to vote for marriage equality legislation in parliament.
“When this matter comes before Parliament I will certainly be voting with my conscience and supporting marriage equality,” he said, spruiking Labor’s numerous LGBTI policy reforms.
“I hope AME’s letterboxing does make a positive difference in Batman and convinces people to support this important change.”
The Greens candidate for Batman is marriage equality supporter Alex Bhathal, who has publicly criticised Feeney for voting against the Senate bill on overseas marriage equality recognition.
“On Q&A earlier this year, Senator Feeney said he could not wait for the day when marriage equality was achieved. The question must be asked, why does he say one thing and then do another,” Bhathal said in June.
The Star Observer contacted Liberal Party candidate for Batman George Souris for his position on marriage equality, but has not receive a response at the time of writing.